Have you heard of Joe Delaney? If not, you need to read this. And if you have, it’s time for the annual reminder of who he was and what he did, 31 years ago today.
Delaney, a Chiefs running back who had spent two years in the NFL as of June 29, 1983, noticed that a trio of young boys had waded into a man-made water hole. It contained an unknown deep end, and they quickly were in trouble.
As Frank Deford, then of Sports Illustrated, later explained it, “There were all sorts of people around, but only Joe dashed to the pond. There was a little boy there. ‘Can you swim?’ he asked Joe.
“‘I can’t swim good,’ Joe said, ‘but I’ve got to save those kids. If I don’t come up, get somebody.’ And he rushed into the water.”
Delaney saved one of the boys. Two drowned. Delaney drowned, too.
Joe Delaney died at the age of 24, with a wife and three young girls.
As a rookie in 1981, Delaney rushed for 1,121 yards. He sacrificed a bright future to help save three young strangers.
If you’ve got a spare 22 minutes, watch the documentary the Chiefs produced to honor a true hero and a true role model.